Wagner Stumps to Tense PAGOP Crowd

Wagner PAGOP 2.3.17

Hershey — State Senator and gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner (R-York) congratulated his fellow Republicans Friday night on the 2016 election results.

But the mood in the room could scarcely have felt less like a victory lap.

“Patriots from Forest County to Philadelphia worked hard to make sure Pennsylvania was bright red on November 8th,” Wagner said.  

Despite a strong November, including wins for president, U.S. Senate, and historic margins in the state House, state Senate and congressional delegation, the mood at the Hershey Lodge is tense.

All of the approximately 300 dinner attendees were focused on one thing: the deeply divisive race for PAGOP Chair. The contest that turned heated and personal in recent weeks and committee members have been heavily lobbied going into Saturday’s vote.

Party Chairman Rob Gleason tried to cut the tension.

“This is my last speech at one of these.  Next time you are going to have to listen to Val or Lawrence,” he joked to applause and laughter.  

Val DiGiorgio is chairman of the Chester County Republican Committee. Lawrence Tabas is General Counsel to the PAGOP. Straw poll results show DiGiorgio with an edge, 120-to-100.

Wagner’s speech sought to unite the crowd around a common opponent: Gov. Tom Wolf.

“That’s right folks, Tom Wolf is a failure, the question the people in this room have to answer is who will replace him,” Wagner said. “We need someone who represents everything that Tom Wolf isn’t.”

The speech was an opportunity for Wagner to consolidate support more than a year before the GOP primary. Several other prospective candidates are considering a bid, including former Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Butler), Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana).

“You’ll find I am the only candidate who has the resume to take on Tom Wolf and win,” Wagner said.

Wagner he picked up at least one endorsement: Gleason.

“As a citizen and a former chair I am on board with Scott Wagner,” Gleason said. He added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if [President] Trump campaigned for Scott Wagner in Pennsylvania.”

But Friday’s speaking platform also carried a risk: getting caught in between two intraparty factions. Wagner left shortly after his speech.

Update: The Pa. Democratic Party blasted Wagner after Friday’s speech and defended Wolf.

“Scott Wagner is the worst kind of Harrisburg insider who caters to special interests at the expense of hardworking Pennsylvania families,” said party spokesman Preston Maddock. “Governor Wolf has taken a different approach for Harrisburg focusing on what matters to the people of Pennsylvania by protecting education, strengthening programs for seniors, and expanding treatment for people with addiction.”

Disclosure: The author formerly worked for the Pa. Republican Party.

17 Responses

  1. Pleasant to be going to your online journal once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i’ve been sat tight for so long. I require this article to finish my task in the school, and it has same subject with your article. Much obliged, incredible offer. Single Forever

  2. Howard Cohen cannot be GOP; he’s too literate. Uses big words. Like 10th grade level. Trump won’t relate to him.

  3. @ Howard Cohen – “with policies to protect our environment and educate our children for the workplaces of the 21st century”. Bro where have you been? GOP doesn’t stand for any of this. Its all about [low paying] JOBS and LOW TAXES!

  4. The close vote for our GOP Chair now puts an extra burden on those who seek victory in 2018. We now must unite our party to defeat Governor Wolf, whose record is now worthy of his re-election. We need a candidate who has the intellect, skills, personality, and record of being able to unite stakeholders who want to rebuild a prosperous Commonwealth with policies to protect our environment and educate our children for the workplaces of the 21st century.
    Scott Wagner has not demonstrated those attributes. Our party needs smart leadership and for that we should take a careful look at Paul Mango, who has a record of excellence and demonstrated leadership in the competitive private sector and the United States Army.

  5. Wagner wasn’t the source of the tension. He’ll work with whoever emerges from the Republican Party Chairman contest. And both contestants know that. Wagner will be a strong candidate.

  6. The Real Rsklaroff again posits:

    “Wagner must explain why he contributed to LaRouche, Kerry and Dean.”

  7. Your coverage has turned all Republican all the time. This sucks

  8. You never thought the people you were trying to F##k were gonna have FAMILY close to DONNY. HILLARY LOST AND NOw SO DO YOU.

  9. Don’t insult me like that. I cannot help if I’m a schmucksky. GOP loves me no matter how dumb and racist I am.

  10. In other news I hear the feds are looking DEEPLY into Tom Hagen in the phila. sheriff’s office investigation. lou can’t save you now. TRUMP’S in CHARGE.

  11. @jmarshak

    I cannot adequately describe how factually inaccurate your statement about Trump and Gleason is. Perhaps you missed the multiple times President Trump thanked Gleason. It’s no coincidence the Trump campaign staffers are NOT supporting Val.

    Have fun at Val’s reception tonight!

  12. Wagner should reject Gleason’s endorsement. Virtually every one of Gleason’s hand-picked crony candidates for statewide office has failed miserably since he’s been running the state party. Gleason also did everything he could to defeat Wagner when he was running for the Senate, which was one of the big reasons I voted for him.

    Donald Trump won PA in spite of Rob Gleason, not because of him. And if the PAGOP wants to have any kind of sustained success going forward, Gleason and all of his buddies need to be permanently removed from leadership.

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